HLC Newsletter

Majority of U.S. House of Representatives Now Cosponsoring Legislation Repealing Independent Payment Advisory Board

Healthcare Leaders Say Congress Needs to Move Before August Recess to Take Advantage of Legislative Window to Repeal IPAB Before Seniors are Harmed

WASHINGTON – Bipartisan legislation to repeal the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB), sponsored by Congressmen Phil Roe (R-TN) and Raul Ruiz (D-CA), has now gained 219 cosponsors, a majority of the U.S. House, demonstrating the level of support necessary to do away with IPAB before it harms Medicare beneficiaries, the president of the Healthcare Leadership Council (HLC) said today.

HLC president Mary R. Grealy stressed that Congress needs to act on IPAB before it adjourns for its August recess. There is a provision in the law creating IPAB that allows Congress a one-time only opportunity to pass a resolution that would permanently end the IPAB process, but that resolution – which could be fast-tracked through the legislative process without being subject to filibuster or amendment — must be adopted by August 15. Congress is scheduled to begin its recess on July 28.

The Independent Payment Advisory Board was created by Congress in 2010 to serve as a mechanism that would initiate sharp cuts in Medicare spending, with no judicial review and limited opportunity for Congress to intervene. Since no members have been named to IPAB, its authority automatically transfers to the Secretary of Health and Human Services. Critics have pointed out that IPAB will almost certainly cut Medicare physician reimbursements, thus undermining access to care for seniors and beneficiaries with disabilities as more doctors restrict the number of Medicare patients they treat.

Experts project that IPAB will be triggered to act this year when the Medicare actuaries announce their annual spending projections, which would lead to significant cuts to program spending in 2019.

“IPAB is a blunt instrument that would take resources out of Medicare without bringing greater value to the program,” said Ms. Grealy. “There is already a gap between what private insurers pay for healthcare services versus the more limited Medicare payments. If IPAB worsens that gap, we will inevitably see more seniors and Americans with disabilities having greater difficulty finding a doctor. We need to continue the process of making Medicare a value-based program, but IPAB doesn’t do that.”

HLC is among more than 700 organizations from all 50 states, representing patients, physicians, employers, veterans and persons with disabilities that are urging Congress to repeal IPAB. More information about this effort can be found at www.protectmydoctorandme.com.

HLC has also sponsored a $2 million television, print and digital advertising campaign to raise awareness of the dangers IPAB presents to Medicare beneficiaries and to emphasize the importance of the August 15 congressional deadline to pass a resolution ending IPAB.